What were the main aims of the initiative?

The project ‘Ricerca-azione’ ran from 2008 to 2010 with a group of local schools. Two private schools and one state school worked together to analyse and promote inclusion in schools.

Once the project plan was drafted and the participants shared ideas and suggestions, the teaching staff chose a group of co-ordinators to be responsible for the school analysis.

The data analysis led to the testing of strategies: co-operative learning and ways to improve the ‘inclusive style’ of students, teachers and parents.

The following goals have been set:

  • Organising school activities in an inclusive way (especially parents’ meetings, the role of special needs teachers who have to participate actively in teacher meetings and inclusion team work);
  • Sensitising families through training courses and parental involvement in school meetings;
  • Testing co-operative learning approaches in subjects such as history, geography, R.E. and science; using peer tutors to support learners who were chosen as group leaders and appraise their competencies;
  • Organising teacher training for new teachers (courses, tutoring) and year-round training on inclusive teaching strategies.


The main aims are:

  • Increasing awareness in the school staff (employees, nuns, teachers, educators, parents, general workers);
  • Involving families;
  • Adopting inclusive habits in daily teaching.


Location, setting, Scope, key events etc.

Istituto Figlie Del Sacro Cuore Di Gesú is located in the Northern Italy in a medium- size city (130,000 inhabitants). It is a private Catholic school and it includes kindergarten, primary and lower-secondary school (students of age 3–13 years).

Private schools usually welcome students from the wider district; therefore getting to know the area the students come from is not easy. Students live in different areas, in cities or villages, and they have chosen this school for several reasons: the educational syllabus provided, their parents’ working duties and/or the full-time curriculum, and the fact that the school is not open on Saturdays.

The school staff feels that meeting and sharing with the local community where students live is one of the key points of inclusive education.


What issues/challenges does the example address?

Throughout the years, ‘testing’ inclusive educational strategies showed some critical areas for development, such as in the areas of teachers’ and parents’ competences.

After the 2010 ‘Ricerca-azione’ project, the schools’ attitude towards inclusion has been analysed. This analysis showed that the weakest points were: the awareness of the way that educational limits and low expectations can disadvantage the students, the best ways to praise the students’ talents and the need for parental involvement.

For these reasons, the schools’ actions were focussed on achieving two main aims: empowering teachers through additional training and involving all families to share the principles of inclusive education.



How was the Initiative implemented?


  • Empowering teacher training on inclusive strategies: how to get parents involved and how to share inclusive strategies within all subjects;
  • Empowering parents through training on inclusion;
  • Getting all parents involved in the Inclusion Team Work (GLI) group to share the inclusive education principle, based on the Index for Inclusion (especially section A – ‘Building communities’);
  • Opening up some teachers’ meetings to parents;
  • Setting up an inclusion team composed of teachers. This team aims to analyse the learning limits/barriers and share inclusive strategies to adopt in teaching and learning.


What where the key Outcomes? What impact/added value did they prove? What were the biggest challenges?

Training on inclusion and inclusive education allowed the research team to:

  • Share evaluation results with teachers and families;
  • Empower the school to adopt an inclusive orientation through the real participation of parents in staff meetings and through some community initiatives (e.g. the annual educational motto, Child Rights Day, Christmas celebrations, the end of the school day); to stress that the school is a community composed of students, families and teachers;
  • Share ideas on inclusive strategies with other schools;
  • Re-adapt the school curriculum with a more inclusive prospective;
  • Empower co-operative learning practice;
  • Activate workshops, letting students lead the activities;
  • Get families actively involved in workshops to build and live in an inclusive ethos.


Has the initiative been evaluated or are there plans for this in the future?

The following conclusions have been drawn from the Inclusive Commission and from class meetings:

  • The teachers who work in both primary and secondary school together with SEN teachers have become the point of reference for all the students and also the other adults at school.
  • The positive changes towards inclusive education within the school in recent years have been acknowledged, especially with regards to working with different specialists (such as psychiatrists, psychologists and language therapists); working with the schools in the local area and cooperating with families.
  • The ideas shared when the project started have not necessarily led to a coherent response: good resolutions don’t always correspond to inclusive practice!
  • Some feedback from families provided evidence of a lack of understanding of the goals set by the school and a difficulty in understanding some school choices has emerged at class meetings where parents were also invited. Sometimes the presence of SEN students is considered to be reason why teachers have trouble managing some class-groups.

Issues exist and fatigue is noticeable, but the school keeps working in order to break down barriers to inclusion. When the staff team talk about inclusive theory, all adults recognise such actions as good and politically correct, but when they have to turn them into practice on a daily basis and make choices taking inclusive principles into account, doubts and misunderstandings arise.


Have any plans been made for future direction of the initiative?

Now the main focus is on co-operation with families in order to share ideas and thoughts on inclusive education. The main aim is to create the right inclusive atmosphere that allows parents to play their roles positively, to recognise the different roles, to share competencies and education strategies and avoid delegating all educational responsibility to the school.


What are the main learning points?

Here some observations that came to light during the feedback of the Inclusive Commission:

  • Inclusion is a very demanding process and needs time in order to be experienced;
  • It involves a change in culture and thinking and it doesn’t only affect the school;
  • Teachers have to stop and think, not only about the research on teaching strategies but also about how to share their reasons for educational choices with other adults within the school community. They must support the adults involved with the school to reflect on the principles which are the basis for choices they make;
  • There are three elements to take into account: the positive attitude towards inclusion, the initial and on-going training of all adults at school and the involvement of the whole community in order to make it more ‘sensitive’ to inclusion.


Are there further information about supporting materials?

Booth, T., & Ainscow, M. 2011. Index for Inclusion: Developing Learning and Participation in Schools. Bristol: CSIE.

Medeghini, R. 2009. La ricerca della qualità. In Medeghini R. et al. L’inclusione scolastica. Processi e strumenti di autoanalisi per la qualità inclusiva. Brescia: Vannini Editrice, pp. 51–68

Medeghini, R. 2011. L’inclusione nella prospettiva ecologica delle relazioni in Medeghini, R., Fornasa, W. (a cura di). L’educazione inclusiva. Culture e pratiche nei contesti educativi e scolastici: una prospettiva psicopedagogica. Milano: Angeli Editore

Medeghini R., D’Alessio S. 2012. Contribution des systèmes de soutienau développementde l’éducation inclusive. La nouvelle revue de l’adaptation et de la scolarisation. No 57 pp. 13–24. INS HEA – SURESNES

Medeghini R., Vadalà, G. et al. 2013. Analyse critique du processus d’intégration scolaire en Italie; vers une prospective inclusive, in J. M. Perez, T. Assude, Pratiques inclusives et savoirs scolaires, paradoxes, contradictions et perspectives, Nancy: Presses Universitaires de Nancy, pp. 29–46

Medeghini, R. et al. 2013. Disability Studies e inclusione. In Medeghini, R. et al. Disability Studies. Emancipazione, inclusione scolastica e sociale, cittadinanza. Trento: Centro Studi Erickson, pp. 191–227

Medeghini, R. 2015. (ed.). Norma e normalità nei Disability Studies. Riflessioni e analisi critica per ripensare la disabilità. Trento: Erickson

Vadalà, G. 2011. La riproduzione della disabilità nella scuola dell’integrazione. In Medeghini, R. and Fornasa W (ed.) L’educazione inclusiva. Culture e pratiche in contesti educativi e scolastici. Una prospettiva psicopedagogica. Milano: Franco Angeli, pp. 129–155

Valtellina E. (2011). Storie dei Disability Studies. In Medeghini al Disability Studies. Emancipazione, inclusione scolastica e sociale, cittadinanza. Trento: Centro Studi Erickson, pp. 23-51


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Roberto Medeghini

Researcher in Inclusive Education – GRIDS ITALY (Group of Research in Inclusive Education and Disability Studies)

School contacts

Istituto Figlie Del Sacro Cuore Di Gesú (Kindergarten – Primary – Lower Secondary)

Via Ghirardelli, 9


Simona Corti, Primary school contact

Claudio Mendeni, Primary and Lower Secondary school contact

Additional/alternative contact for further information

Francesca Anesa, School Principal

School website:

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